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Tampa Bay high school football fans have been clamoring for a Robinson-Pasco showdown in the Class 5A region final since the start of the season.
They’ll get their wish Friday when the Pirates travel to Port Tampa.
Here’s a look at how the teams match up:
How they got here
Pasco: Class 5A, District 6 champion with 10-0 regular season record. Blew past Citra North Marion and Gainesville Eastside by a combined score of 86-10 in the playoffs.
Robinson: Class 5A, District 8 champion with 9-1 regular-season record. Cruised past Port Orange Atlantic 41-8 in playoff opener and used a touchdown pass with 14 seconds left to knock off Lakewood 22-19 last week.
Pasco: Two trips to the state semifinals since 2008. Only state title came in 1992.
Robinson: Two trips to the state semifinals since 2009. State runnerup in 1963 and ’71.
Most impressive win
Pasco: The Pirates intercepted Eastside star QB Sir Jackson four times in last week’s 52-0 blowout over the Class 5A, District 5 champion.
Robinson: Rallying past Lakewood last week. The Knights, who had scored first in all 11 previous contests and had trailed in only one game (a loss to Plant), needed such a high-stakes gut-check. (Note: Pasco hasn’t really had one yet.)
Pasco: No team in the state has allowed fewer points than Pasco (60), and only Ocala Trinity Catholic has more interceptions than the Pirates (25), according to MaxPreps. Pasco has shut out seven of its 12 opponents and hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game.
Robinson: The Knights set a state record with 13 defensive touchdowns this season, including a fumble recovery in the region quarterfinals. Robinson has four shutouts, and only seven playoff teams still alive have allowed fewer points (119).
Pasco: Senior DE Morgan Flournory set a Pasco County record with 221/2 sacks. ATH Janarion Grant has scored 19 touchdowns in six games since returning from a broken hand.
Robinson: Junior Javaughn “JJ” Johnson has nine takeaways (three interceptions, six fumble recoveries) and has scored on six of them. Senior Martin Ruiz is one of Hillsborough County’s most unsung tailbacks (1,092 yards, 7.6 yards per carry) and is tied with Grant for third in Class 5A with 19 TDs.
Pasco: The Pirates have primarily used three quarterbacks: Grant, Ben Chandler and Jajuan Henry. They’ve combined for 914 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground and only 1,066 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air.
Robinson: The arrival of senior Knights legacy Zain Gilmore (1,900 total yards, 11 rushing TDs) from Blake provided arguably the final component Robinson needed for a state title run. “We don’t have a superstar on this team including Zain,” coach Mike DePue said. “But he is … I don’t want to say cement, I want to say like rubber cement, where we’ve been able to stretch things out and hold it together.”
Pasco: Senior David Emmanuel ranks eighth in Tampa Bay with 1,314 rushing yards while scoring 17 TDs and averaging more than 10 yards per carry.
Robinson: Ruiz’s 1,092 yards are the fifth most in Hillsborough County. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in three of his past four games.
Notable team stat(s)
Pasco: The Pirates haven’t trailed in their past 23 quarters, since falling behind by a score in the first quarter of a 54-20 win over Fivay. Pasco has scored 20 non-offensive TDs this fall.
Robinson: Against teams not named Plant, the Knights are 20-2 at Jack Peters Field the past four seasons. … Six Knights have at least eight receptions.
D-I senior offers
Pasco: ATH Janarion Grant (USF, West Virginia, Rutgers and others); RB David Emmanuel (Memphis, FAU, Rutgers); DL Joey Ivie (Florida commit)
Robinson: OL Bruce Hector (USF commit); OL Conner Rafferty (USF commit)
Pasco: Junior ATH Malik Johns returned a punt for a touchdown in Pasco’s first four games of the season and had a 95-yard TD run last week. Freshman Nate Craig-Myers has four interceptions and scored on five of his 13 receptions.
Robinson: Jesuit transfer Nahshon Simmons, a 292-pound defensive tackle, already has 19 tackles, half a sack and a blocked field goal in the playoffs.
Matt Baker and Joey Knight, Times staff writers